Jeremy Schanche reads a sworn statement by Harold Hempstead describing Darren Rainey’s murder by Officer Roland Clark.
On 23 June 2012, a black Muslim convict was tortured to death at Dade C.I. in Florida. He was locked into a specially rigged shower stall for almost two hours, in temperatures of up to 183 Fahrenheit. When he was eventually found, most of the skin had peeled away from his dead body. An inmate was later ordered to throw the skin into the trash. This brutal murder was covered up by guards and other authorities, until inmates, including Harold Hempstead, succeeded in finally contacting the Miami Herald newspaper, which broke the story.
Although the U.S. Constitution guarantees free speech, the reality of life in the Florida Department of Corrections, like its counterparts in many other American states, is different. Inmates who merely file complaint forms, let alone talk to the press, can expect brutal retaliation from certain of the guards. Inmates who stand up and blow the whistle on brutality, abuse and corruption are taking a great risk to their own safety, in a penal system that has degenerated into routine brutality, systematic starvation, and regular torture and murder.
This film should never have been made. People should not be steamed to death in locked showers, screaming for mercy, dying alone in terror and agony. USA is not the only nation to conceal horrors such as this, but the USA has a Constitution, a blueprint for justice, democracy and the rule of law – not all nations have such a thing. Furthermore, the USA is a vital element of western culture and civilization. For this nation to live up to its promise, its meaning and its true identity, something must change.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the Russian author of such books as Crime and Punishment said “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” For ‘America’ to ever be ‘Great’ it’s going to have to take a radically different approach to the treatment of those it locks up and takes into its power.
This film has been made in an attempt to publicize the evidence of the prisoner, witness and whistle-blower Harold Hempstead who is endangering his own safety to bring justice for the murder of a mentally disturbed black Muslim man, Darren Rainey. On 7th November 2016, the prisoner Daniel Geiger died in the custody of the Florida Department of Corrections. He is mentioned in the film as the inmate for whom the ‘shower-treatment’ was originally devised. Daniel Geiger was put in the special shower on more than one occasion. He was also systematically starved. Regular food-deprivation was part of the regime at Dade Correctional Institution and Harold Hempstead is convinced that is has contributed to more than one death.
Records show that this prisoner’s weight at the start of his detention was 179lbs, which is just over 12 ¾ stone. However, when New Yorker journalist Eyal Press spoke to Daniel Geiger’s mother, Mrs Debra Geiger, she reported that in 2012, her son had told her that his weight was down to 105lbs (7 ½ stone).
Whatever crimes a man may have committed, the Constitution, the foundation document of the nation, requires, in the name of the people, that convicts shall be treated according to lawfully encoded standards of justice and welfare, with recourse to legal redress of grievance and the free speech to do so. While the rights of the convict are obviously considerably fewer than those of the free citizen, they are, nonetheless, clearly defined and enshrined in law, and should, when circumstances deem it necessary, be vigorously protected by we, the people.
- ‘Affiant’ means the author of an affidavit or witness-statement – which in this case is Harold Hempstead.
- ‘C.I.’in this context stands for ‘Correctional Institution’ or prison.
- In the film I wrongly stated that Harold was recruited at age 14. He was actually 13 when first employed by the St.Petersburg Police Department, Florida. (J.S.)
Remember Darren Rainey.